Managing Stress in Todays World:

Dr. Matthew DiLallo DC, CSCS and Dr. Addison Seitter DC

Stress is defined as the body/brains response to any stimulus. Most of the time stress is brought on by change whether expected/unexpected or real/perceived.

SAID Principle
The human body is governed by the SAID Principle. The SAID principle asserts that the human body adapts specifically to imposed demands. In other words, given stressors on the human system, whether biomechanical, emotional or neurological, there will be a Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demands (SAID). What this means is that when the body is placed under some form of stress, it starts to make adaptations that will allow the body to get better at withstanding that specific form of stress in the future. This principle is most commonly applied to the physical training and fitness realm, however it holds true for everything that we encounter in life.

Not all stress is bad. All animals have a stress response, which can be life-saving in some situations. The nerve chemicals and hormones released during such stressful times, prepares the animal to face a threat or flee to safety. When you face a dangerous situation, your pulse quickens, you breathe faster, your muscles tense, your brain uses more oxygen and increases activity—all functions aimed at survival. In the short term, it can even boost the immune system.

However, with chronic, un-managed stress, those same nerve chemicals that are life-saving in short bursts can suppress functions that aren't needed for immediate survival. Your immunity is lowered and your digestive, excretory, and reproductive systems stop working normally. Once the threat has passed, other body systems act to restore normal functioning. Problems occur if the stress response goes on too long, such as when the source of stress is constant, or if the response continues after the danger has subsided. Some signs that you are having problems managing the stressors in your life are difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy.

So how do we downregulate and manage our bodies stress response for optimal function?

1) Breathing – Utilizing the diaphragm to take deep breaths, driving 360 degree expansion of the rib cage and abdomen, activates the parasympathetic nervous system via the Vagus nerve. The Vagus nerve runs through the diaphragm, so the more the diaphragm moves, the more stimulation it provides to the Vagus nerve, which is why deep breathing in itself is an effective way to trigger parasympathetic activation. The parasympathetic nervous system is the “rest and digest” nervous system and is a major player in the down regulation of the human body. For a proper demonstration on how to breathe take a look at this video:

2) Soft Tissue Mobilization – The benefits of soft tissue work are many, but for the purposes of this article we will focus mainly soft tissue mobilization of the abdomen. Whether done by a trained professional or done on your own, mobilization and stimulation of the soft tissues of the abdomen is a powerful way to down regulate the body. This again happens via stimulation of the Vagus nerve. For self-release of the soft tissues of the abdomen we like to use the Coregeous ball or a slightly deflated ball. For a proper demonstration on how to mobilize the soft tissues of your abdomen check out the following video:

3) Exercise – Biologically, exercise gives the body a chance to practice dealing with stress. It forces the body's physiological systems — all of which are involved in the stress response — to communicate much more closely than usual: The cardiovascular system communicates with the renal system, which communicates with the muscular system. And all of these are controlled by the central and sympathetic nervous systems, which also must communicate with each other. This workout of the body's communication system may be the true value of exercise; the more sedentary we get, the less efficient our bodies in responding to stress.

4) Diet – The human body has an amazing ability to mend itself through endless checks and balances. This is especially evident with blood pH. When the pH of the blood starts to become unbalanced in either direction by the smallest of margins, the body quickly brings it back into balance through a number of buffering systems. These buffering systems include the lungs, blood, kidneys, and minerals. As the blood becomes too acidic, mechanisms kick in to bring blood pH back to balance. Your body will create alkaline minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium and pull these minerals from your bones, teeth, and organs to neutralize the acids. This process is fine every now and then, however forcing your system to pull minerals and consistently work hard to create an alkaline environment can lead to osteoporosis, cavities, dental problems and health issues. Your diet plays a vital role in managing this delicate balance. The simple solution is to make a more conscious effort to choose high-quality foods and alkaline-rich fruits and vegetables. This will ensure you provide your body with the essential nutrients for cellular repair and optimal health and assist your body in maintaining its delicate acid/alkaline balance.

5) Chiropractic – Chiropractic Care plays a large role and is an extremely effective form of stress reduction. Chiropractors are neuromusculoskeletal Doctors who work with the bones and muscles in order to optimize the function of the nervous system. Chronic stress causes the nervous system to become hyperactive. One of the most common physiological presentations of stress (whether physical, mental or emotional) is muscle tension/tightness. Chronically tight musculature will lead to changes in your biomechanics (the way you move), which will in turn lead to distortions and malposition’s of the joints and bones that those muscles connect to. These dysfunctions are a major form of stress on the nervous system. Chiropractic adjustments help to alleviate muscle and joint tension, therefore easing the excessive firing of those mechanoreceptors and nociceptors bombarding the nervous system (reducing neural dysfunction and stress). Unfortunately, most people only think of Chiropractors for neck or back pain, however your body can be experiencing the effects of stress even when you are not in pain. With the exception of direct trauma, pain is usually the last symptom and sign of a dysfunction. People who have been under chronic stress and are experiencing pain usually turn to over the counter medications with the hopes of relieving these symptoms. However, they are only masking the pain and not actually fixing the dysfunction. The findings from a 2011 study revealed that chiropractic adjustments affect how our body interprets and copes with pain. The better we are at coping with and dealing with pain, the better prepared our body is to fight disease and injury. The PET scans showed that after receiving a chiropractic neck adjustment, patients had altered brain activity in the parts of the brain responsible for pain processing and stress reactions. Their saliva samples demonstrated that the patients also had significantly reduced cortisol levels, indicating a decreased stress response. Also, the subjects who were adjusted reported lower pain scores and a better quality of life. Chiropractic Care is an essential player in the fight against stress and is a key component to living a well-balanced and healthy lifestyle.

If you have any questions or would like some more information please give our office a call at 561-402-4701 or send us an email at

Works Cited
1. "Diaphragmatic Breathing." Encyclopedia of Pain (n.d.): 598. Diagphragmatic and Pursed Lip Breathing. 5 Sept. 2006. Web. 18 July 2016.
2. Dishman, Rod K. "Exercsie Fuels the Brains Stress Buffers." American Psycological Association. American Psycological Association, 3 May 2013. Web. 18 July 2016.
3. "Fact Sheet on Stress." NIMH RSS. Ed. National Inst Health. National Institute of Mental Health, 6 May 2006. Web. 18 July 2016.
4. Gladish, Samantha. "The Alkaline DIet." Paleo Hacks. Paleo Hacks, 4 Apr. 2015. Web. 05 July 2016.
5. Hargrove, Todd. "The SAID Principle." The SAID Principle. Better Movement, 10 Jan. 2009. Web. 5 July 2016.
6. Ogura, Takeshi and Manabu Tashiro, Mehedi,Shoichi Watanuki, Katsuhiko Shibuya, Keiichiro Yamaguchi, Masatoshi Itoh, Hiroshi Fukuda, Kazuhiko Yanai. Cerebral metabolic changes in men after chiropractic spinal manipulation for neck pain. Alternative Therapies. 2011, November/December; 17 (6): 12-17.
7. Luck, Marissa. “Proof Chiropractic Lowers Stress, Raises Wellness” ChiroNexus. August 11, 2014. Web. July 17, 2016.

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